Nuance launches mobile voice ads: Annoyance or gold mine?

Summary:If successful, Voice Ads will dramatically boost engagement. If annoying, Voice Ads will be the mobile equivalent of the pop-up ad on the desktop.

Nuance on Monday launched Voice Ads, a voice enabled ad platform that allows a consumer to talk to brands. Companies get a new monetization vehicle and consumers presumably will get a say in brand advertising delivery.


Mobile advertising could be huge, but few companies have cracked the display advertising code. The reality is consumers behave differently with mobile searches and behavior. More than a few mobile ad clicks are due to mistakes. Nevertheless, eMarketer pegs global mobile ad spending at $8.41 billion in 2012, up from $4 billion in 2011. By 2016, $37 billion will be spent on mobile advertising, according to eMarketer.

Nuance, which is using its voice technology in mobile, health and auto applications, is obviously hoping to get on the ad gravy train. Voice Ads promise to give marketers an avenue "to deepen the relationship with their consumers." The theory is that you'll chat with an ad or brand like you would Google's assistant or Apple's Siri. So far, Nuance has lined up a bevy of ad agencies for its voice ads, which line up with industry standard formats.

As for creating the voice ads, agencies need JavaScript and the software development kit from Nuance. 

The big question is whether these voice ads will be fun or annoying. Voice Ads will use location, mobility and voice to pop up and ask a consumer to speak to it. The conversation will drive the ad experience.

Nuance noted on its Web site:

Mobile devices are with us all the time, but there’s a specific time and place for rich media ad experiences. Nuance Voice Ads solve that problem by changing the dynamic of the ad itself. Instead of trying to push information onto a limited screen, advertisers are now free to let the user pull information onto the screen using their voice.

This is how decisions are made in real life, through dialogue.

Do I really want to have a dialogue with an ad?

If successful, Voice Ads will dramatically boost engagement. If annoying, Voice Ads will be the mobile equivalent of the pop-up ad on the desktop.

I'll reserve judgment until I see a few dozen of these mobile voice ads in action. However, my hunch is the deck may be stacked in the annoyance category.

Topics: Smartphones, CXO, Mobility


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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